National Basketball Players Association vice president Roger Mason Jr. has backtracked one day after stating that Heat forward LeBron James would boycott games if disgraced Clippers owner Donald Sterling isn't ousted by the 2014-15 season.
In an interview Tuesday with Showtime's Jim Rome, Mason directly said that he had spoken with James and that James had told him he would boycott games next season.
“If it’s not handled by… the start of next season, I don’t see how we’re playing basketball,” Mason told Rome. “We have player reps, we’ve got executive committee members… Leaders of the teams, they’re all saying the same thing, ‘If [Sterling] is still in place, we ain’t playing’. ... I was just in the locker room three or four days ago. LeBron and I talked about it. He ain’t playing if Sterling is still an owner.”
The story changed on Wednesday, when Mason posted a series of Twitter messages that clarified James' stance and contradicted his comments in the interview.
"Jim asked me about guys playing next season if Sterling remained an owner," Mason wrote. "I mentioned I spoke to [James] as I speak to many players. My bad if I was not clear. [James] never said anything about boycotting. He's a friend and I would never want to imply something he didn't say. The bottom line is that our commissioner, team owners, fans, players, and the world all agree that there is no place for racism in our league."
Mason was previously involved in a bit of confusion during the 2011 lockout, when he accidentally wrote "Looking like a season. How u" on his Twitter account. The message was initially taken to be a sign that the lockout was about to be resolved; instead, Mason first said his Twitter account was hacked, then later clarified that he meant to send the words as a text message and that the message was supposed to mean that the lockout would drag on for the entire 2011-12 season.
James, who scored 49 points in a Game 4 victory over the Nets in the Eastern Conference semifinals on Monday, took a public stand against both Donald Sterling and his wife, Shelly Sterling, earlier this week.
"As players, we want what's right and we don't feel like no one in his family should be able to own the team," he said, according to the Associated Press. "At the end of the day, this is going to be a long litigation when it comes to that. This guy who's owned the team since the '80s is not going to just give the team up in a day. So we understand it's going to be long, but we want what's right."
Donald Sterling, who has been banned for life by NBA commissioner Adam Silver, told CNN's Anderson Cooper on Monday that he was hoping the NBA and his fellow owners would give him another chance, but he seemed to suggest that he didn't see the value in a protracted legal battle over the Clippers.
“People want me to hire a wall of lawyers and [the NBA] to have to hire a wall of lawyers and go to war,” Sterling said. “I don’t think that’s the answer. I think the answer is, the league is a good league, all honest people. And I think that whatever they decide that has to be done, I think I should work with them and do it.
"I don't want to fight with my partners, you know? We all do what we have to do in life. I love [the owners] and I respect them. And whatever their decision is with regard to the disposition of my terrible words, then I have to do it, I think."
Shelly Sterling, though, is prepared to dig in to keep her stake in the Clippers.
“I will fight that decision,” she told ABC News. “To be honest with you, I’m wondering if a wife of one of the owners, and there’s 30 owners, did something like that, said those racial slurs, would they oust the husband? Or would they leave the husband in?
“I was shocked by what [Donald Sterling] said. And — well, I guess whatever [the NBA's] decision is — we have to live with it. But I don’t know why I should be punished for what his actions were.”
The NBA has moved quickly to place distance between Sterling and the Clippers. In addition to Sterling's lifetime ban, Silver has placed Clippers president Andy Roeser on leave and installed Dick Parsons as the organization's new CEO. The NBA's 10-member advisory/finance committee met again this week as it prepares for a vote that could oust Sterling.
“The advisory/finance committee met again this afternoon via conference call," a league spokesman said in a statement on Tuesday. "The Committee discussed the recent media appearances by Donald Sterling and Shelly Sterling, received updates on the hiring of Dick Parsons as the Los Angeles Clippers interim CEO and on his meeting yesterday with Clippers employees, and reviewed the status of the charge for termination of the Clippers’ ownership. The Committee will reconvene next week.”
Three-quarters of the league's owners must vote to force out Sterling.
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